In the Catholic and Anglican tradition, there is a period known as â€œOrdinary Timeâ€ on the liturgical calendar. It runs for roughly 34 weeks with no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ celebrated or observed, such as Lent (the time leading up to Easter) or Advent (the time leading up to his birth). This means that the majority of the practicing Christianâ€™s liturgical calendar is well, ordinary â€“ that most of our days in any given year, are simply mundane and perhaps predictable.
Perhaps this seems disappointing. But even the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before seeing the beautiful Promised Land. Even Jesusâ€™s three years of ministry were spent doing ordinary things â€“ fishing, eating, discussing things with the disciples. Even Ruth spent her days working the fields before her story culminates with the Kinsman-Redeemer, Boaz, taking her under his protection and wing in marriage. Even the Apostle Paul, who lived out an extraordinary life, sat in the prison cells, simply worshipping God when he couldnâ€™t do anything.
It is the ordinary, in fact, that is extraordinary.Â In Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, Tish Harrison Warren writes: â€œ â€œOrdinary love, anonymous and unnoticed as it is, is the substance of peace on earth, the currency of God’s grace in our daily life.â€Â This thought perhaps captures the beauty of grace â€“ subtly, softly â€“ moving through our daily spaces and lives.
I like the drama.Â The adventure.Â The extraordinary moments.Â I live for the rush.Â The moment when I cross the finish line, or have a great win at work, or finish accomplishing something big in my life. But, here we are, in the “ordinary time” of the liturgical calendar. The heat of summer. Â In fact, the longest time in the liturgical calendar, and I’m sitting here wondering, How long?Â How long, oh Lord?Â How long will friends and family continue to bear brokenness and suffering?Â How long until you bring about the promises in my life that I have longed to see?Â How long until you provide clarity? Â Â
There are seasons of our lives that have a trajectory of extraordinary-ness. You know, the big moments. The special moments where everything in the world feels wonderful and big and special.
But, how do we make the mundane extraordinary? How does the ordinary become divine? How can our daily routine in the ordinary days become infused with Spirit-filled purpose? How can we, like Warren says, embrace the currency of Godâ€™s grace?
Psalm 90 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
What’s ironic about this phrase is that there is an element of ‘rush’ in this sentence. If we are numbering our days, we feel a sense of urgency. A sense of the preciousness of time. A sense of walking on eggshells because we know our days are numbered. But, the Psalmist here isn’t talking about living frantically or rushed or even impulsively – I think he is actually saying to slow down – to ponder – to sit in the ordinary – to just be. To sit still in grace and perfect love.
What is the goal? Is the goal to reach the high highs? Is the goal to strive and strive until we get the blessing, like Jacob? No! The goal is to gain a heart of WISDOM. Of discernment. Of being able to perceive how our ordinary days truly matter in the drumbeat of both our earthly and spiritual lives on earth.
I can’t imagine heaven being boring.Â But, oftentimes, in the ordinary moments of my life right now, I feel a sense of fear – it’s almost as if I’d prefer to avoid the ordinary, because when I’m actually sitting in it, it can be boring. Sometimes it hits me with a frightful glimpse in the mirror and asking me, ‘Emily, how are you infusing this moment – this ordinary mundane moment with glory and beauty and spirit?’Â
It’s then I laugh. The liturgical calendar is longest in the ordinary time – the ordinary days – because that is mostly where God operates best. That is where we can best reflect the heart of the Father, too, because that is where He is always faithful. Most consistent. Most enduring.
Take stock of your mundane moments.Â How can you make them extraordinary?Â Yes, God will provide your daily manna.Â Yes, God will show up in those moments and surprise you with His goodness, His power, His provision, His patient grace.Â But, as you receive the daily bread from heaven – your manna – how can you in turn spark intention in your daily habits, thoughts, words, choices and actions?
Margaret Thatcher once said: â€˜Watch your thoughtsâ€¦for they become your destiny.â€™Â I marvel at that — how true it is that if our intention is pure, extraordinary, and conscious – we will in fact begin to change right there in those dull moments that can almost feel dreary with repetition – as if we are in a constant state of Groundhog Day.Â In fact, we are not!Â The only Groundhog Day that exists in the Christian faith is when we get to heaven and get to be with our Savior, day after day worshipping Him as we never have before – in the perfection of glory and clothed in His perfect peace.
Ordinary days. Take them and let them be, consecrated Lord to Thee – take your moments and your days – let them flow in ceaseless praise. Perhaps if you do this, you will even quite forget that your ordinary days are nothing but ordinary. They are extraordinary with the love of your Savior infusing purpose and greater patience and perfection into everything you are, do and say.